Preparing the Mind
There is more to joint replacement surgery than simply showing up on the operating table and performing the allotted 2-3 months of physical therapy. You need to develop the expectation that there is more to this transformation than the 3 month widow of surgery and physical therapy. Preparation should happen weeks, if not months, before the procedure. And rehabilitation should last until physical therapy exercises become lifestyle changes.
The most important thing to realize is that you will have a new joint, which essentially gives you a new body (think, ‘knee bone connected to the…hip bone’). When working with clients who have had a joint replacement, there is a constant battle in the brain not to be in the “old body” patterns. If you think of how long it took to grind down your joint in the first place, you have at least that long to develop subconscious healthy movement patterns.
Preparing the Body
The stronger you are going into surgery, the better. And I am talking about ALL OVER. By strengthening the muscles around the affected joint, it will help to lessen the amount of muscle atrophy (depletion) from the non-use after the surgery. The current range of motion (ROM) of the joint may be significantly affected due to pain; however there are many exercises that can still be performed within the existing ROM.
It is also helpful to work the areas of the body that aren’t “broke”. For example, if you are scheduled for a total hip or knee replacement, you will be using crutches or a walker after the procedure. If you aren’t using either of those props now, building up strength in the arms and upper body will help to getting around without fatigue later. If you are getting a single knee or hip replaced, it is important to prepare the other leg for the extra work that will be required of it.
The bottom line is to think outside the box, where the box is the affected joint.
Preparing the Spirit
Injuries take their toll in many ways. They bring pain to the body and frustration to the mind. There will be many hurdles along the way as well as improvements. Prepare yourself by focusing on the positives (the healthy parts), and it is possible to avoid breaking the spirit it and build it up instead.